Browsing Archive July, 2007

Mets Game 105: Win Over Nationals

Mets 5 Nationals 0

The Mets won behind a one-hit shutout by John Maine … albeit, it was a five-inning game called by rain.

In the five innings, Maine gave up one hit, walked none, and struck out five en route to his 12th victory. A Ron Belliard single in the first inning prevented the first no-hitter in Mets history.

As is their modus operandi, the Mets took the lead early in the game via a first-inning run started by — surprise — Jose Reyes. Reyes doubled to start off the inning, and was promptly singled home by Lastings Milledge. They scored again in the third when Reyes led off the inning with another double, stole third, and scored on a David Wright base hit.

In the fourth, Damion Easley had a leadoff single and Ramon Castro blasted a 440-foot homerun through the rain and over the centerfield fence to put the Mets ahead 4-0. Ruben Gotay followed with a single and was sacrificed to second by John Maine. Nats starter Billy Traber then retired Reyes but walked Milledge and was removed in favor of Chris Schroder, who couldn’t stop the bleeding, as David Wright rapped a single on a hit-and-run to score Gotay, making the score five-zip.

Meantime, John Maine was cruising, oblivious to the rainfall.

Notes

One part of Maine’s maturation that gets overlooked is his effectiveness as a batter. Last year, he looked a lot like Mike Pelfrey at the plate — completely lost, frightened, and hopeless. This year, however, he has 11 sacrifice bunts, three walks, four hits, and a homerun. OK, he’s no Rick Rhoden but is miles away from the .036 batter of last year. Little things like getting on base and moving runners along often make a difference in ballgames, and can help get a pitcher an extra win or two every season — just ask Tommy Glavine.

Too bad Willie didn’t use the hot-hitting Ramon Blastro on Saturday night as a pinch-hitter, instead of playing a “hunch” on Marlon Anderson. Who knows what might have happened.

Castro by the way was 2-for-2 with both the homer and a double. He now has 7 homeruns and 6 doubles in 101 at-bats. That works out to an extra-base hit every 7.8 at-bats.

Next Game

The Mets have a travel day on Monday and will fly out to Milwaukee to face the Brewers on Tuesday in a 8:05 PM start. Tom Glavine goes for win #300 against Jeff Suppan. No word on whether MLB commissioner Bud Selig will be in his hometown to see Glavine’s 300th or watching the steroid monster’s chase of 755.

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Willie’s Head-scratcher

Willie Randolph, on his managerial gaffe of pinch-hitting his last position player in the seventh inning last night — causing Tommy Glavine to be used as a pinch-hitter in the ninth:

“Yeah, we were short…When Lo Duca went down, we had to get somebody to run for him, and I was thinking maybe I’d have to pinch hit Glavine later on, maybe, if we had to go that route, and that’s the way it turned out…We’re short, and really can’t play with fire like that…

“(Marlon Anderson) was like 2–for-3, or 2–for-4 against (Ray King), and he’s a professional pinch hitter and I’d rather have him in that spot. I knew that if I pinch hit Castro there, they would have brought in Rauch and Ramon is not the swiftest the guy, at least Marlon could beat out a double play there, to get to the top of our lineup, so I wanted to turn it over and keep it going. I was confident in Marlon, and he gives you a tough at bat, no matter what, and you don’t always want to use two players there, but I just felt good about that at-bat, as opposed to Rauch against Castro…

“I mean, you’ve got to go for it. You get an opportunity, they were shutting us down pretty much, and we were starting to get back in the game, and you wanna keep that flow going. Our bullpen was pretty much set up, and we wanted to get on the board there, so made the move.”

So … in a nutshell, Willie has more confidence in Marlon Anderson as a pinch-hitter. Secondly, he feels Anderson against a lefty is a better matchup than Castro against a righty. Further, instead of making a logical decision based on available (and limited) resources, he played one of his “Torre hunches” and justified it with the idea that he was afraid that Castro might hit into a double play.

Sounds like a guy playing not to lose — a defeatist attitude — and a guy who has more faith in a player who’s been on the team for two weeks than one who’s been with him for three years.

After listening to this explanation, I’m still not understanding it. Willie based Anderson’s “success” against Ray King on a five at-bat sample. Yet, Willie plays down Ruben Gotay’s “success” in over 100 at-bats this season. Kind of an inconsistent valuation system, eh?

Further, Randolph stated that he didn’t want to bring in Castro because then the Nats would bring in Jon Rauch to face him. So what? Isn’t part of the manager’s strategy to get the other team to burn through their bullpen as quickly as possible — particularly in a tie game that could go extra innings?

Castro, by the way, was 0-for-3 lifetime vs. Rauch — again, small sample — but is batting .304 this year against righties. Oh, and Rauch isn’t exactly lights-out on righthanded hitters this year — they’re batting .260 against him (interestingly, lefties are only hitting .189 vs. Rauch). So I’m not buying the stat lines in Willie’s head.

Anyway … moving on …

Wiggy an Astro

Another second baseman came off the market yesterday — as well as a middle reliever — when the Houston Astros traded Dan Wheeler to the Tampa Bay Devil Rays for former Met Ty Wigginton. A bit of a head-scratcher for both sides, though Wheeler should help out a hopeless Rays bullpen. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Wheeler flipped to a playoff contender in the next few days in return for more youthful arms.

Wigginton, on the other hand, is essentially another Mark Loretta, but with more power and more swings and misses. Do the ‘stros see Wigginton as next year’s third baseman? Or their second baseman? Does this move free them to deal Loretta? Time will tell.


Cantu Dumped on Reds

Loyal readers know I’ve been clamoring for Jorge Cantu since March. Well, the Rays finally dealt him — with outfield prospect Shaun Cumberland to the Reds for a questionable prospect named Calvin Medlock and so-so lefty pitcher Brian Shackelford. I’m a bit disappointed the Mets didn’t put together a package for Cantu, who could be a big fish when he finds himself. Notice I said “when” and not “if” — I see Cantu as an offensive version of Oliver Perez circa 2006. He’s a talented guy, who is going through some rough head games right now. A new environment is just the thing to jog him out of his doldrums.

This deal doesn’t stink as badly as the Tadahito Iguchi trade, but it’s still one of those, “huh, that’s all it took to get him?” deals. Dissecting this deal, Cantu was packaged with a Ben Johnson-type outfielder in return for a LOOGY who’s worse than Scott Schoeneweis and a 5’10” righty who throws gas but doesn’t have command (Ambiorix Burgos or Marcos Carvajal might be a decent comparison, though this kid Medlock hasn’t had success above AA — and in fact struggled in A ball before this year.) Which poses the question: would you have traded, say, Schoeneweis straight up for Cantu? (The Rays would never accept such a deal because of The Show’s contract, but I’m just throwing it out there.) Or, would you have sent Marcos Carvajal and Jon Adkins for Cantu and Cumberland?

Of course, we don’t know what the Rays think of the Mets’ prospects, and I’m guessing their scouts are higher on Medlock than other people. But you see deals like this and have to get a little frustrated. I’d be very happy to get a bat like Cantu down in New Orleans, and see how he responds in an organization focused on winning, like the Mets’.

Let’s Make a Deal

So who is left that the Mets might be interested in pursuing? Mark Loretta or Luis Castillo for second base? Jose Contreras, if the price isn’t too high?

My guess is it will be another one of those deals that Omar alway likes to make — under the radar, unexpected, not a rumor in sight.

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Mets Game 104: Loss to Nationals

Nationals 6 Mets 5

How did this happen?

Mike Pelfrey was shaky early in the game, allowing three runs in the third inning. After getting eighth-place hitter Ryan Langerhans to ground out to lead off the inning, pitcher Joel Hanrahan followed with a triple — in his first Major League at-bat, and likely his first at-bat since Pony League. D’Angelo Jimenez followed with a double to score Hanrahan. Ronny Belliard struck out for the second out, and it looked like Pelfrey might get out of the inning when he went 2-2 to Ryan Zimmerman. However, Zimmerman hit the next pitch up the middle to score Jimenez, and he took second when Lastings Milledge’s throw went in to home plate. Pelfrey couldn’t stop the bleeding, as he gave up another single by Dmitri Young to score Zimmerman and make the score 3-0.

Pelfrey settled down after the third, scattering a few hits but allowing no more runs during his outing. He finished up pitching six innings, allowing eight hits but walking only one and striking out five.

However, the Mets offense struggled mightily against Hanrahan, who was making his Major League debut after seven years in the minors. He kept the Mets off balance with a mixture of changeups, nasty sliders, and a fastball that touched 95 on a few occasions. Strange, because every scouting report I pored over said he was a crafty control guy who barely broke 90. Hmmm… someone’s getting fired on Monday. Hanrahan struck out five Mets, walked one, and only gave up one hit — an opposite-field single by David Wright — through five innings.

In the sixth, the Mets finally broke through against Hanrahan. After both Damion Easley and Jose Reyes struck out to start the inning, Ruben Gotay sliced a ball through the right side for a single. Wright followed with another opposite-field hit, this time a line drive into the right-center gap that scored Gotay and put him on second base. Carlos Delgado was paying close attention to Wright from the on-deck circle and figured that staying back on the ball might be a good idea. He sat back, kept his hands back, then launched an outside fastball over the leftfield fence to tie the ballgame 3-3, and keep Pelfrey from losing another game.

Guillermo Mota pitched a scoreless seventh, but Pedro Feliciano had some struggles in the eighth. He gave up a leadoff single to Austin Kearns, then gave him second base on a wild pitch. Brian Schneider followed with a grounder that moved Kearns to third. Pinch-hitter Tony Batista (yes, he’s still in MLB) was intentionally walked, and Ryan Langerhans — hitting about .150 — singled to drive in the go-ahead run. Pitcher Jon Rauch hit for himself (????) and struck out. Jimenez then walked, and Feliciano was replaced by Aaron Heilman. Unfortunately, Heilman could not continue his magical pitching, and promptly gave up a double to score two runs — making the score 6-3.

In the bottom of the inning, Ruben Gotay started another rally with a leadoff single. Wright singled, and Delgado singled to drive in Gotay. It was the makings of a big inning, but Moises Alou killed the rally with a double play that scored Wright. Nonetheless, Shawn Green tried to restart the engine, taking a page out of the Jose Reyes strategem by slapping a single, stealing second, and taking third on the overthrow. He was stranded there, though, when Ramon Castro grounded out.

Aaron Heilman rebounded by pitching a scoreless ninth, but Chad Cordero matched the feat in earning his 21st save.

Notes

Gary Cohen alluded to exactly what I thought I was watching — a repeat of the Jason Jennings MLB debut against the Mets. For those who don’t remember, Jennings pitched a shutout and hit a homerun to beat the Mets.

Moises Alou looked awful in his at-bats. His timing is way off and he’s way ahead of pitches. He looks very similar to his form in March. It may take a while for him to get started. Can the Mets wait? Or should they re-think making a deal for Jermaine Dye, who’s now healthy and hitting?

Shawn Green also mixed in some bad plate appearances. It’s frustrating to watch, because you can see that he’s sometimes guessing, and looking to jerk a ball into the rightfield seats, but the pitcher and catcher are well aware of his plans and have no intention of feeding him anything but garbage sliders down and away. After waving at the first two garbage balls off the plate, you’d think a smart cookie like Green would adjust his plan — especially with two strikes. Yet, he’ll invariably swing through strike three, another slider way off the plate and in the dirt.

Willie Randolph made a very curious move in the seventh. With one out and the game tied three-all, Paul LoDuca pulled up lame on a broken-bat basehit by Lastings Milledge. LoDuca had to leave the game, and El Duque went in to pinch-run, as the Mets had only two position players available. However, at the same time, Randolph sent in Marlon Anderson to pinch-hit against LOOGY Ray King — instead of Ramon Castro, who had to come into the game anyway due to LoDuca’s injury. In other words, Willie wasted Anderson, and left the Mets with no non-pitchers available to pinch-hit later in the game. Apparently, someone forgot to tell Willie that both Anderson Hernandez and Sandy Alomar Jr. were on their way to New Orleans. As a result of Willie’s managerial genius, Tom Glavine came up to pinch-hit in the ninth inning of the one-run game with one out.

Next Game

The Mets absolutely, positively MUST win the final game of the series, which begins at 1:10 PM. John Maine goes to the hill against Billy Traber.

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Mets Game 103: Win Over Nationals

Mets 3 Nationals 1

Orlando Hernandez was brilliant. And, he had to be.

El Duque pitched seven innings and allowed only one run on three hits and two walks, striking out eight. The only run came via a Felipe Lopez solo homer.

The Mets hitters, however, curiously struggled against Tim Redding, who has mysteriously thrown yet another good game in his “born again” season. Redding struck out eight batters and gave up only one earned run on five hits in six innings. When he left the game, the score was tied 1-1, with the only Met run coming via an RBI double by Lastings Milledge in the fourth.

Redding’s exit, however, was the best thing to happen to the Mets. The Sheasters pounced on reliever Saul Rivera for two runs on three hits and a walk, with the runs scoring on singles by Ruben Gotay and Carlos Delgado.

Aaron Heilman pitched another scoreless inning to bridge the gap to Billy Wagner, who saved his 24th ballgame with a perfect ninth.

Notes

Gotay was 2-for-4 with a run and an RBI. Reyes also had two hits and a run scored. David Wright walked three times.


Next Game

The nightcap begins at 7:10 PM. Mike Pelfrey goes against Joel Hanrahan.

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Second Base Question

No, this isn’t a question about a second baseman for the Mets.

The question is: how did the Phillies — in the market for a second baseman for about three hours — pick up a very serviceable one from the White Sox in return for an A-ball middle reliever?

Don’t believe the headlines that state “Tadahito Iguchi Dealt for Pitching Prospect”. A guy who is pitching middle (not closing) relief in the South Atlantic League, and sporting a 3.88 ERA, is NOT a prospect.

Now, I’m not saying the Mets should have chased after Iguchi. But, if he could have been obtained for some schlep pitching mopup for Port St. Lucie? Welcome to New York, Iguchi-San!

If that’s the cost for Tadahito Iguchi, I imagine the Mets can pick up Mark Loretta for Lino Urdaneta. Get it done.

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Mets Game 102: Loss to Nationals

Nationals 6 Mets 2

Apparently, someone forgot to tell the Washington Nationals that they were supposed to roll over and lose to the Mets amicably.

The worst-hitting team in MLB — the one that’s averaging less than four runs per game — crossed the plate six times against the Mets in gaining their 44th win of the season. Crafty lefty Mike Bacsik threw pus-balls for seven innings, scattering eight hits and allowing only two runs. The only Met to accumulate more than one hit was Carlos Delgado, who blasted two singles.

Jorge Sosa pitched six non-solid innings, allowing nine hits, three walks, two homers, and five runs. With each start, he is looking more and more like the 2006 version that went 3-13.

Sosa got through the first inning OK, then was the victim of a Doublemint commercial in the second, as the punchless Nationals found the strength to hit four two-baggers in five minutes, scoring three runs. The Mets came roaring back with a run when Lastings Milledge bounced into a double play, but Ryan Church hit a solo homer in the third to make the score 4-1.

The Mets scored again, and for the last time, in the fifth when Shawn Green doubled and scored on a Damion Easley single. However, the Nats came back in the sixth with another homer — this of the leadoff variety — by Austin Kearns. They scored their sixth run in the eighth off the previously invincible Pedro Feliciano.

Notes

Hmmm … bright spot, bright spot … there had to be one somewhere … ah yes, just-promoted Jon Adkins pitched a perfect seventh inning, retiring three batters on nine pitches. Aaron Heilman also pitched a nearly perfect inning (scoreless), the ninth, but finally allowed a hit.

Next Game

Day / night doubleheader on Saturday, with game one starting at 12:10 PM and game two commencing at 7:10 PM. El Duque vs. Tim Redding in the first game, then Mike Pelfrey tries not to lose against Billy Traber in the nightcap.

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Series Preview: Mets vs. Nationals II

Washington Nationals baseball logoThe soft part of the Mets’ schedule continues as the Nationals come into Shea for a four-game set, including a day / night doubleheader on Saturday.

The Nats are expected to send four journeymen to the mound, as their already awful pitching staff has been recently decimated by injuries. Which poses a problem for the New York Mets, who have a hard time hitting mediocre pitching.

Here are the matchups:

Game 1: Jorge Sosa vs. Mike Bacsik

Since beginning the season with six wins in his first seven starts, Jorge Sosa has fallen back to earth, going 1-4 after June 8th. He was most recently rocked for 8 hits and 6 runs in 4 innings in Los Angeles, and has given up 23 earned runs in his last 30 innings pitched. Not good. It appears that batters have caught on to the fact that he throws one speed, and relies almost exclusively on his slider. However, he does have the benefit of facing the Nationals, which is both the lowest-scoring team in MLB (their 385 runs are 24 less than the next-worst Pirates), and the MLB team with the lowest batting average (.248).

Mike Bacsik is a soft-tosser that might be considered a “poor man’s Tom Glavine”. I disagree. He’s more like a “destitute’s Glavine”, or perhaps, a “homeless man’s Tom Glavine”. He tops out around 84 MPH, throws a change-up in the 70s, and keeps the ball in the strike zone. Sounds like BP, right? Except, he has one huge advantage: he’s never before started against the Mets. Can you say “Wandy Rodriguez Effect”? Further, in his last outing — against the Rockies — he pitched into the seventh inning and gave up only three hits and no runs. So he is capable of getting batters out. Also, let’s not forget the Mets once gave up Matt Lawton and four top prospects for his services, so he’s got some skills (there was another guy the Indians threw into the deal, don’t remember the name … some forgettable infielder).

Game 2: Orlando Hernandez vs. Tim Redding

El Duque has been a mixed bag of lights-out, so-so, and shaky performances, but for the most part has kept the Mets in the game. His last outing could be termed “so-so” by the stat line, but if you watched the game you saw that he really only made two or three mistakes — but every one he made bit him in the butt. In his last start against the Nats, he had one of his “shaky” performances, giving up three homers and six runs in five innings. Hopefully he can improve upon that this time around.

Yes fans, Tim Redding is still being paid to be a professional pitcher. What’s more, he currently holds a sparkling 2.92 ERA. Apparently he hasn’t been tested yet. Like Bacsik, he shut out Colorado through 6 2/3 innings in his last start, which must mean it had more to do with the Rockies than the skill of the Nationals moundsmen (perhaps the Colorado batters were having a hard time adjusting to the thick air in DC?). Mets batters have to watch out for his sneaky fastball, sharp curve, and the bobcat he stole from Todd Helton to paste onto his chin.

Game 3: Mike Pelfrey vs. Billy Traber

Mike Pelfrey looks to stay winless in the bottom end of a day / night doubleheader. Well, you know what they say — “the ninth time’s a charm”. The Mets hope to coax five mildly effective innings out of Pelfrey in this latest showcase of his talents — directly in the face of his potential suitors (part of a package for Chad Cordero?).

Meantime, Billy Traber takes the mound to show the Mets one more time why they never should have traded him for Mike Bacsik. Though it all seems so pointless now that they’re teammates.

Traber has made only one start this year, and has yet to pitch more than four innings in a game in 2007. However, he is 1-0 with a 0.79 ERA career against the Mets in four games (one start). On a good day, Traber doesn’t have much velocity-wise, but his command can be very good, and he’s hell on lefthanded hitters. Righties, however, pound him — to the tune of .350 this year, .312 over the last three years.

Game 4: John Maine vs. Jason Bergmann or Joel Hanrahan

After two straight poor outings to begin the second have, John Maine rebounded with a fine performance against Pittsburgh, allowing only two runs in seven innings. Granted, it was the Pirates, but his next victim is the Nationals — and, well, he’s expected to dominate them as well.

The Nats may or may not have Bergmann starting, as he left his last start due to a hamstring injury. The former Rutgers ace gave the Mets fits in his start against them in April, but much has changed since then — most significantly, an elbow injury that sidelined him for a month. Since the injury, he hasn’t been the same. In two June starts, he pitched a total of 8 innings and sported a 7.88 ERA, with opponents hitting .375 against him. He’s been pounded in July as well, with his ERA increasing with every outing. With the hamstring injury added to his decreased performance, it may make sense for the Nats to give him a break.

Should that be the case, Joel Hanrahan will come up from AAA to make a start. The Nats picked the 25-year-old off the scrap heap in February, and has gone 5-4 with a 3.90 ERA in the AAA International League. He’s a 6’3″ righthander once touted as a jewel prospect in the overzealous Dodgers organization. He doesn’t throw overpowering stuff, but rather relies on throwing strikes and pitching to contact. As Ryan Moore of Distinguished Senators stated, the Mets ” … shouldn’t lose to this guy … “.

Mets Bats

Let’s hope the Lastings Milledge show stays in town through the weekend — LM has been a one-man wrecking crew since his promotion, driving in 12 runs in 12 games. Paul LoDuca is also swinging a hot bat, and for power too — though if the Pirates stationed a legitimate centerfielder in the middle of Shea’s outfield grass, he might not have hit two doubles against the Bucs. David Wright continues his steady pace, and methinks Jose Reyes is about to explode. Rumor has it we’ll see Moises Alou in uniform (don’t hold your breath).

The Mets can be beaten if the offense strays from its recent strategy of taking pitches and working deep counts. None of the Nationals pitchers have any type of stuff to be concerned about, but their effectiveness can be multiplied by aggressive batters with poor pitch selection. Stay the course!

Nationals Bats

Dmitri Young — affectionately known as “Da Meathook” — is the only bat the Mets need to be concerned with, and he’s really not more than a singles hitter these days. Imagine Mo Vaughn without homerun power and there you have Dmitri; he’s currently hitting over .330. Ronny Belliard is batting .301 and is a threat to hit a bloop double at any time. Ryan Zimmerman is having a terrible year, batting only .257. The Nationals as a team are hitting .248 and on pace to finish the season with less than 100 homeruns. Get the picture?

Bottom Line

The Nationals are bottom feeders, and after this series the Mets must travel to Milwaukee to play a first-place team, then travel to Chicago to play the second-place Cubs, and then they’ll face the Braves. That said, the Mets must take at least three out of four from the Nats, and if they have it in them, a sweep would be nice. Will they? We’ll see.

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Inside Look: Washington Nationals

Washington Nationals baseball logoGosh, has it really been almost three months since the last time we saw Manny Acta and the Nationals? Yup — there it is: the last game against the Nats was April 29th. Huh.

Since it’s been so long, we’re counting on Ryan Moore of Distinguished Senators to jog our collective memories and give us the update on one of our favorite NL East rivals.

Ryan:

Greetings, Mets fans! In the interest of friendly discourse, I’ll try not to mention Jesus Flores any more than I absolutely have to.

Grrrrr … did you HAVE TO mention Flores? Good gawd … anyway, on to the questions …

1. The Nationals’ pitching has had its struggles, and now the staff is being hit with a rash of injuries. Is it a blessing in disguise, as you can get a look at some youngsters, or do Nats fans really want to see the likes of Jason Simontacchi and Tim Redding taking the hill?

It’s certainly a blessing in disguise for you guys, as injuries handed Thursday’s start to John Lannan, who proceeded to alter singlehandedly the handicapping of the NL East race by breaking Chase Utley’s hand. So you’re welcome for that one.

To answer the question, it’s absolutely a blessing. This team’s hard enough to watch even without Jerome Williams tossing walks and sweating butter.


2. Lannan’s a good man, he follows orders precisely. Speaking of injuries, Jason Bergmann is the latest to go down, and is questionable for his Sunday start. Word on the street is that Joel Hanrahan may be his replacement. What’s the scoop on Hanrahan?

Hanrahan isn’t the kind of guy who attracts scoops. He was signed as part of one the Nats’ comprehensive “sign everybody and see who can play” procedures. He’s only 25, which gives him a leg up on Jerome “I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter” Williams or whoever, but that ain’t much. You shouldn’t lose to this guy is what I’m saying.

3. Dmitri Young has been reborn in DC. Do the fans like him? Do you want to see him sign a contract extension?

They do, and it’s kind of pathetic. There’s no Alfonso Soriano this year, and Ryan Zimmerman – the guy we’re all supposed to like – hasn’t done a lot. So fans are clinging to the only thing that’s going right. It’s understandable – he’s a big jolly fat guy who’s “redeemed” himself, and that’s fun if you don’t think too much about why he needed redemption.

They’re going to sign him, and it’s a terrible idea. Fat 33-year-olds who can barely play first base are not good long-term investments. And I don’t know if you guys have heard about this, but the Nats allegedly have a Plan, something so intricate and important that it always gets capitalized. The Plan is all about acquiring stopgaps and flipping them for prospects or draft picks until it’s time to compete (shortly before the end of the decade, if things go well). If management is letting foolish human sentiment interfere with The Plan, then we’re in trouble. Nats fans, I mean. You suckers’ll be sitting pretty.

4. Wow, Ryan, Dmitri sounds an awful lot like Mo Vau… oh, never mind. Stay the course. Next question. Your thoughts on the Ron Belliard extension — and how it may affect the Young situation.

I like it. He’s a nice, versatile little player. He’s good enough that it frees the Nats to trade Felipe Lopez, but not so much money that they have to.

I don’t think affects Young, except insofar as it betrays an organizational enthusiasm for fat guys.

5. Hey now, fat guys are people too. Speaking of, didn’t you guys have a guy named Nick Johnson? Broke his leg about three years ago? When’s he coming back?

Poor Nick. Dude heals slow. Of all the Nats whose femurs Austin Kearns could have busted with his mighty bionic knee, Nick was the one who was going to stay out the longest. He won’t play until next year, so we get two more years of Dmitri.

6. Keep Chad Cordero or trade him? If the Nats trade him, what do they want in return?

They’re in a nice position with Cordero. There’s no urgency to trade him, so they can wait until his value’s at its highest and they can get more in return. But I have a suspicion that’s been sneaking around since the start that Chad’s going to fall off a cliff quickly and completely one of these days, in a fashion reminiscent of your Roberto Alomar. So yes trade him, and the sooner the better as far as I’m concerned.


7. Other than Cordero, who else could go before the trading deadline?

A shorter list would be who couldn’t go. Felipe Lopez is expensive and playing terribly. Ryan Church and Austin Kearns are there if anyone wants them. And so on and so on. I can probably get you a volume discount if you’re interested.


8. Um, we’ll pass on the blue light special. But thanks. How do you feel about Manny Acta as an in-game manager, and manager of personnel? Do you think he is the right man for the rebuilding Nationals?

I’m a fan. You can quibble with his personnel decisions – more Jesus Flores, please – but he’s the best manager the Nationals have ever had. I mean that: ever. The Frank Robinson years were characterized by losing, in-fighting, and crankiness. Now all that remains is the losing. Manny Acta is a credit to his profession.

9. Hey, you made a promise about Flores. Now for that I’m through with the softball questions. Tie game, ninth inning, two out, man on third. What Nationals hitter do you want at the plate?

I gotta go with Da Meathook (that’s Dmitri, in case you didn’t know). Zimmerman has a weird propensity for the walk-off, but Young’s the only guy who’s hitting.

10. Da Meathook, I love it. Same situation, but the Mets are hitting. What Met would you least like to see up?

I used to be a Cardinals fan, and I remember Carlos Beltran almost dragging the Astros to the Series all by himself back in ’04. Sacred the hell out of me. Cold sweat, therapists, the whole thing.

Congratulations, Ryan — you’re the first blogger who didn’t answer that last question with “Jose Reyes”. Love to see someone with an “out of the box” answer.

Thanks again to Ryan, and be sure to check out his Distinguished Senators blog — which, unfortunately, does not cover the Senators of yesteryear. So no talk of Harmon Killebrew, Jim Lemon, Earl Battey, and Camilo Pascual. Heck, he’s not even covering the “faux Senators” of the seventies (the one that made Frank Howard and Mike Epstein famous, and gave birth to the Texas Rangers). No, Ryan blogs about the Nationals. A good idea, though, using the Senators name to pique interest.

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